Spring STEM Events
At the post-secondary level—the theme continues, but the stakes are higher. High profile engineering challenges and invention competitions sponsored by industry and professional societies ratchet up the competition as well as complexity. Some provide significant prizes for winning teams. Designing, building and racing alternative fuel (including human) powered vehicles; designing and building energy independent homes; concrete canoes and toboggans; medical devices etc bring the same problem-based learning approach, extracurricular activities to most college campuses. Opportunities for students to develop critical and creative thinking, knowledge integration, and team-building skills make these projects very popular among students, faculty and industry partners. There has also been interest these activities into academic credit courses so students can get credit for the time they put in. There are obstacles and disadvantages at the college level, as well as advantages to making these activities part of the formal education system and it will be interesting to follow the trend.
Competitions and expos have grown into fun and educational community events. There are a lot of ways to participate in the K-12 level competitions and expos. Teams and individual students need mentors, all of these events only exist with large numbers of volunteers and volunteer hours, and the competitions need judges and sponsors. Volunteering is a great way to help students get excited about STEM and have some fun. Here are a list of state level competitions and websites to check for more details. Some of these sites have links to local/regional competitions that occur before the state events and national events that generally occur in early summer. There are many other student competitions that extend beyond what is listed here, but are generally supported and hosted by